Much of the country has suffered a particularly harsh winter this year, but thankfully it’s finally coming to an end. Just as the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted, winter in the Northeast was especially cold and snowy. Unfortunately, colds, sinus infections and the flu typically accompany cold winter weather, so you might still be suffering from the tail end of a winter cold.
There are many theories about why we catch colds more often during the winter months, none of which have really been proven. However, the number one reason suggested by medical experts is that we tend to stay indoors more during the winter, increasing our exposure to recirculated air that may contain viruses.
Another theory is that we’re exposed to less ultraviolent light during a long, dark and gloomy winter. Viruses are extremely sensitive to ultraviolent rays as it destroys their DNA. Others suggest that the rhinovirus, the most common cause of the human cold, grows more easily in colder body temperatures. When we step into the cold, our body temperatures decline just enough to give the rhinovirus the opportunity it needs to replicate.
Societal pressure to take sinus drugs
Whatever the cause may be, when you’re feeling sick, you want relief fast, even if that means masking (and not curing) those uncomfortable symptoms. When you turn on the TV to catch the 6:00 p.m. news tonight, you’ll likely be bombarded with commercial ads for the latest and greatest cold and sinus medicine.
In regard to treating colds and sinus infections, often the problem with Western medicine is that it’s aimed at treating symptoms rather than reaching the root of the problem. Treating symptoms with pharmaceuticals usually comes at a price too. Over the counter sinus drugs can leave you feeling drowsy, run down and just plain weird.
Luckily, there are A LOT of natural ways to treat that winter head cold.
Drinks lots of water
Staying hydrated is really important, especially if you’re super congested and unable to breathe through your nose. Drinking plenty of water, no sugar added juice, clear broth and hot tea will help thin out and drain mucus. Avoiding substances like alcohol, caffeine and sugary beverages will prevent you from dehydrating yourself.
Another way to dissolve mucus is through spicy foods such as wasabi, cayenne pepper or horseradish, which is also an antibacterial. Apple cider vinegar can help clear a congested naval cavity. Here is a simple apple cider brew you can make at home in minutes.
Pressure point activation
A quick facial massage can offer true and immediate relief for congestion. Following these five steps will allow you to breathe more easily.
Breaking up mucus through steam inhalation is one of the most comfortable and relaxing ways to get relief fast. The experience both feels and smells good, especially if you add a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint to a hot bath or a humidifier.
Salt water rinse
Using a Neti pot is one of the most popular ways to clear congestion of the naval cavity. Neti pots work by pouring salt water up the nose, clearing out unwanted mucus and contaminants that may be contributing to nasal congestion.
Grapefruit seed extract
A natural antibiotic made from grinding dried grapefruit, grapefruit seed extract makes an awesome nasal spray, that when administered correctly, helps clear out mucus. It also prevents other microbial contaminants from flourishing in inflamed sinus tissues.
Present in many Indian and some Middle Eastern dishes, turmeric’s natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make this spice beneficial to everyone. Combining turmeric with spicy ginger root in a hot tea is glorious for sinus relief as it alleviates sinus pressure and clogged nasal passages. Ginger root is also great for calming an upset stomach, a side effect commonly associated with nighttime nasal congestion or draining of the nose.